Metabolic rate and weight loss: What you should know

By Zubair Jafer, MD  |  11/16/2017

Can you eat whatever you want without gaining weight? Or do you eat very little and have trouble keeping the weight off? Every person requires a different amount of calories per day to maintain their current weight.

Some people are just lucky and inherited genes that promote a faster metabolism. Genetics and the amount of fat versus muscle in your body are the two main factors that determine your metabolic rate.

At the same time, weight loss is a simple equation of calories put into the body vs. the calories the body needs as fuel.
If you could look into your body, you'd see thousands of chemical reactions continuously happening that keep you alive, even when you are inactive, which is about 60 to 75 percent of the time. That's your metabolism at work.

While you are at rest, how well your body turns calories into the fuel it needs to maintain your basic bodily functions, to breathe and pump blood, for example, is called your basal metabolic rate. Basal comes from the word base.

Knowing your basal metabolic rate can help you create a more effective strategy for losing weight and nutrition planning. At The Heart Center's Sports Cardiology program, we measure your basal metabolic rate and gain detailed insights about your individualized dietary needs.

Thanks to fitness apps, counting calories has become a lot easier; doing so, at least once in a while, can make you more mindful of what and how much you're eating. You're more likely to make better choices.

And if you think, "I'll just cut way back on my calories," think again. Extreme restriction of calories actually has the opposite effect. It teaches your body that in order to survive it must slow down your metabolism.
Knowing the resting metabolic rate that is specific to you is great first step in your weight-loss journey.

Dr. Zubair Jafar is a cardiologist with the Heart Center, a division of Hudson Valley Cardiovascular Practice, P.C. To learn more about weight-loss support offered, call the Heart Center's general information line at 845-473-1188 (TTY: 1-800-421-1220).